Roth Surname Genealogy

The Roth surname is Germanic in
origin. The most likely explanation of
the name is that it derived from the German rot
meaning “red” and was perhaps at first a nickname for someone with
hair. However, there have been many explanations.
Roth is also Jewish. It first appeared as
an ornamental name in the 18th century
Ashkenazi refugees were arriving in Germany from the Balkans and

Roth Resources on

Roth Ancestry

The Rote spelling first
appeared in Germany in the 12th century.
Roth appeared as a place-name in Bavaria and the
Rhineland-Palatinate. Roth as a surname
seems to have had its origins
in Bavaria. One family from Wunsiedel
in NE Bavaria dates from the early 1500’s.
Roth was a Jesuit missionary who grew up in Augsburg in south Bavaria
in the

The name spread across Germany’s southern borders into Switzerland,
Austria, and Hungary. The legend of Hans
Roth of Rumisberg
in the Swiss canton of Bern dates back to
1382. Johannes Roth was a Burgomeister at
Basel in
1444. The Rott name was recorded among
Swiss Anabaptists in the 1530’s; while Hans Roth was preaching at
Kitzbuhel in
Austria at that time.

The Roth numbers
today are approximately:

  • 70,000 in Germany (with the largest numbers in
  • 5,000 in Switzerland
  • 3,000 in Austria
  • and 1,000 in Hungary.

Roth arrivals in the
were mainly from these four countries.
Some also came from what was then the Russian

England. There were a few
instances of Roth being a native English name.
But most Roths in England, mostly found in London, have come
Germanic immigrants. Mathias Roth who arrived in the 1840’s
as a Hungarian refugee became a well-known London medical practitioner.

America. Many early Roths from
Germany who came to
Pennsylvania changed their name to the more anglicized Rhoads or Rhodes:

  • Johann Rodt, for instance, arrived in
    Philadelphia from Wurttemberg with his wife and three sons in 1717. They settled in what became Berks
    county. The family spelling here was
    sometimes Roth, but subsequently became Rhoads.
  • Heinrich Roth arrived from the
    German Palatinate in t737 and later
    settled as Henry Rhoads in Frederick county, Maryland.
  • while Anthony Roth, also
    from Wurttemberg, came in 1752 and settled in York county, Pennsylvania. His children were Rhodes.

Another Roth-to-Rhoads change occurred later
after Reuben Roth who had fought in the Civil War with the 176th
Infantry Regiment. His son A.J. Roth
headed west and changed his name to Rhoads.

Roth family in Pennsylvania who remained Roth (except for a son Peter)
was the
descendant line from Daniel Roth who had arrived from Switzerland in
1733 and
settled in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. Christian Roth migrated with his
to Ohio as a young boy in 1821.

Roth was a Mennonite minister from Baden in Germany.
He never made it to America. But
his widow Veronica and children did in
1837, settling in Illinois. Son Daniel served as the minister of the Pleasant Grove Mennonite
church at Tremont, Illinois; grandson Roy pastor of the Pleasant Hill
church at
East Peoria, Illinois. Joseph Roth, also
from Baden, came with his family in 1840, settling in Albany, New York. His son Henry worked on the railroads there.

William Roth had been born
in Hawaii in 1880, the son of an Austrian immigrant.
He married the heiress Lurlene Matson in 1913
and then joined the Matson shipping business.
He built up a fleet of luxury liners that helped spur mass
Waikiki. His son William was to
on in the family business.

Jewish Roths came later. Among noteworthy arrivals were:

  • Emery Roth from Austria-Hungary in 1884, aged
    13. He designed many of the distinctive
    New York hotels and apartment buildings of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
  • and Henry Roth
    also from Austria-Hungary
    in 1908, aged just two. Educated in New
    York, he became a writer, but with a writer’s block that lasted over
    fifty years.

Al Roth, the bridge player
from the Bronx, and Philip Roth, the writer from Newark, were the sons
immigrant parents.

Adam Roth from Baden in
Germany arrived in
Sydney with his family in 1857. After
working initially as a cooper, he bought land in the Mudgee district
established a winery on his Rothview property.
The winery stayed with the Roth family until 1969.

Holocaust survivor
Henry Roth arrived in Australia in 1947 and made a foray into the
industry, establishing the London Fashion
outlet. He sold the chain after twenty years and invested in commercial
properties. These were inherited by his
sons John and Stanley when Roth died in 2000.
The Roths are now amongst the richest families in Australia.

Roth Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Roth Names

Mathias Roth was a well-known
homeopathic medical practitioner in London in the mid-19th century.

Al Roth
was an American bridge player, considered one
of the greatest
of all time.
Henry Roth
Jewish roots, was a 20th century American novelist with a
writer’s block.
Philip Roth
, also from Jewish roots, is an American novelist,
one of
the most awarded writers of his generation

Select Roths Today

  • 28,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in UK)



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